When it's out of your hands, when your life is at the mercy of an armed, masked man staring down at you from the barrel of a gun in your own home, you grasp at whatever it is you can control; breathing, composure or your faith.
"I just began to pray and quote the scripture, all of the ones that talk about protection and that kind of thing. One of them told me to shut up and be quiet but I figured, if I am gonna die, I may as well die quoting scriptures."
Shirley and Delma Groomes were just two of the scores of victims in what some say is one of the most methodically wicked crime waves in this state's history.
Jason Thomas Scott is a case study in the modern criminal mind.
Educated, good looking and internet savvy he orchestrated a fear that paralyzed parts of Prince George's County for two years.
29 home burglaries, nine home invasions, and the sexual assault of a minor.
Scott is also indicted in the murders of mother and daughter Ebony and Delores Dewitt and currently named a suspect in the killing of mother Karen and Daughter Karissa Lofton along with Velma Butler
All of it undetected at first because if terror was Jason's assignment...he aced it.
"I think the scariest thing about him was that he took his craft seriously. It was almost as if it was his profession. He studied. He would watch TV shows that focused on criminal forensics whether it was scripted television shows or reality based shows in which they talked about how police conduct their investigations. And he used that information to help him in his criminal endeavors whether it was hiding his DNA by always wearing gloves, or turning off his cell phone and going so far as taking out the battery because he though that perhaps the police might be able to trace where his cell phone was at the time of any of these crimes," said ATF Special Agent David Cheplak.
Cheplak and other agents for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives would come to know the devil in Jason Scott's details.
Scott, who worked with an accomplice in many of these crimes made use of a database where he worked at UPS to target and gather information on his victims.
He would case homes and neighborhoods for days and when he struck, he was armed with not just guns but tools of his trade; a break-in kit to pop out small windows and cut phone lines, a scanner to monitor police while his crime was in progress, even flex cuffs.
The same tools he used to break into Shirley Groomes' home, drag her down two flights of stairs holding her at gun point.
"When you have absolutely no control over a situation, when you're totally helpless, it is kind of hard to describe but it's a bad place to be in," said Groomes.
But it is exactly where ATF agents say Jason wanted you to be because your fear yielded not only stolen cash and possessions which he would divvy up at an abandoned home he called the spooky house, but also get a lead on other victims.
During one of the home invasions Scott found a picture of the victim's teen friend, cross referenced her name in the database and three weeks later hit her house, all for the purpose of sexually assaulting the minor while he photographed it because according to case records, he thought, "she looked nice."
Admissions of a suspected sociopath investigators would later call scheming, cunning and menacingly devious.
This crime ring Jason Scott was orchestrating in his small part of Prince George's county was as terrorizing as it was brilliant; a masterful criminal stroke without so much as suspicion, a tightly wound enterprise that would only begin to unravel after a misstep Carroll County.
To continue his crime wave uninterrupted, ATF agents say Scott thought he needed silencers so he targeted Carroll County gun store in Woodbine located right next to busy train tracks.
Timed perfectly between the dark of night and the rumbling of a passing train, Scott broke into JC Arms.
[If I say Jason Scott. You say?] "Murder. Criminal. Just total evil."
Jay Chenoweth is the owner of JC Arms, a business he runs between shifts as a Baltimore city firefighter.
"I went to work for night work. Had a good night at work, was happy as could be and that one phone call went from one extreme to the other and it just started a three year nightmare that I just couldn't wake up from."
Because Scott didn't just take silencers, he pilfered about 30 specialty high-powered guns Chenoweth was licensed to sell.
A burglary so well executed, police originally thought it looked like an inside job and considered Chenoweth a suspect.
"It just went further and further down hill as we got into this over the last three years. It started off with the loss of the actual inventory and the loss of security to possibly the loss of my freedom," said Chenoweth.
Until Scott resurfaces and ATF agents get a tip he was selling the stolen guns out of the back of his car in the UPS parking lot.
Scott seems to know the risk and explains it to a
confidential informant who was wearing a wire for the ATF's undercover buy.
"You would have to take the numbers off because if whoever gets caught with that, the going to be up sh*@'s alley. I mean, it ain't, it ain't like no bodies on it or nothing, it's just where they came from," Scott is heard saying on the wire.
But the ATF can still trace the guns and did back to JC Arms which ultimately leads to a warrant and a search of Scott's home; a search that yielded the evidence of a much darker criminal.
"It was just deep inside the guns themselves. We seized the evidence, we purchased some evidence and we followed the trail where the evidence led us. That led us from a gun store burglary, to home invasions, to murders to carjackings to just a real violent criminal," said ATF Special Agent John Cooney
In addition to the guns, ATF found the tools to Scott's trade.
The burglary kit, those flex cuffs, his police scanner with ear buds and what some law enforcement officers call a rape kit; gloves, condoms, lighter fluid, a lighter to burn DNA evidence and a camera to film the act.
Processing all of it reveals Scott's masterful and monstrous spree plotted out with almost the same precision as his criminal practice.
One that would earn him the ire of the District Judge Peter Messitte who at Scott's January, 2012 sentencing called him "a tsunami of crime who shows no indication that he would ever rehabilitate, at least not in this life."
Jason Scott's defense that he was struggling with homosexuality and simply proving himself to his friends was ultimately dismissed; he was sentenced to 100 years in the federal system.
Justice served, but for his victims their sense of security and very faith in humanity remains pierced by what they said in court were the cold, dark eyes of Jason Scott.
"As long as I allow what he did to effect the way I live my life daily, then Jason Scott is still in control, and I refuse to let him control me. But he is right now. He is still in control, even from where he is and that is the epitome of insult. It should never be that way," said Groomes.
Without parole in the federal system, Jason Scott will likely never be free.
He still faces at least two murder charges in Prince George's County; the trial is set for October, 2012